All Done & Dusted? Arsène Pulls The Transfer Plug

For Kermit the Frog, it wasn’t easy being green but that’s nothing compared to being Arsène Wenger in a transfer window. The summer business, this morning’s headlines tell us, might well be over or at least the new signings part of it.

Not that the Frenchman said that or even hinted at it in his interview with a Swedish broadcaster. Then again, I didn’t need the interview to believe that anyway; we’re more concerned with selling players according to Wenger when he spoke to the media after Saturday’s defeat at Stoke.

It’s been a good week for that. A couple out of the door on loan, one permanently and a couple of clubs interested in Chuba Akpom. The problem is that none of that strengthens the XI. We’ve got enough squad players as it is, we need to improve the starting line-up. Of course, selecting players for their best position might well help with that…

Nonetheless, it’s hard to believe that the summer represents any great step forward in moulding a squad to challenge for the title. Arsène is aiming at no more than the top four; the sound you heard at Stoke was the towel wafting in from touchline.

Last season’s disastrous winter/spring period hasn’t been a spur, a call to action. Wenger, by his own admission, caused the dressing room to become unsettled with speculation over his future and I believe the ripple effect of that is still felt with question marks hanging over the futures of Alexis, Mesut Özil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Not only in the heads of teammates but also in their own minds; it’s a distraction which impacts to varying degrees and on the situation they find themselves in.

Round & Round

There was an excerpt from Sir Alex Ferguson’s book which quoted the late Jimmy Sirrell about staggering the end of contracts for your best players. It’s about not letting the club be held to ransom or the manager appearing week. Arsenal didn’t take any notice of that part until it was too late.

It’s not rocket science but to hear Arsène railing against transfer fees once again is baffling. He is football’s Canute, only now the water isn’t round his ankles, it’s over his knees and rising. Time and again we’ve heard how the only way a manager can be successful in the transfer market is to treat the money as if it were his own. That works when it’s in short supply; you have to cut your cloth accordingly.

Now, with revenues at record levels, Arsenal’s cloth is bigger. It’s not a swatch, it’s a huge roll of material and all the evidence suggests that Arsène isn’t the right manager for that type of environment. It’s a tired roll-call of double-digit finishes behind the eventual champions; we’re always going into seasons a player or two short of being a very good side.

This summer changed football for good. I don’t dispute Arsène’s claim that English clubs pay a 50% premium but that’s what happens when your TV deals absolutely dwarf anything Europe’s other leagues can negotiate. The glee with which that was trumpeted around the globe came with consequences and paying a premium on transfers is one of them.

Arsène, you need to get over it.

Easy for You to Say

That’s not to say that a player’s worth shouldn’t be assessed. There has to be a limit to which the club is willing to go and it’s here that the disconnect between Arsène and the transfer market arises. By his own admission, he’s a financially conservative person. Treating the money as if it were his own was a good trait to have when funds were limited. He could have spent more but for a few years, there was no doubt that his was the right approach.

But not any longer.

Arsenal aren’t poor. The narrative of ‘Plucky Little Arsenal’ doesn’t work. Ivan’s words are increasingly hollow but with Arsène retaining control over transfers, we will never compete with the likes of Bayern because we are too passive in the transfer window. We’re the snotty-nosed kid whose face is pressed against the toy shop window watching the rich kids buy up the stock.

With our wealth, we should be in the queue.

It’s this part where Wenger’s disingenuity over a director of football hits us. I agree that a manager / coach should have the final say on whether or not a player is signed but not over the value at which that happens. His input is about whether the player fits into the squad not whether a deal is good value. Yes, by all means put a marker down as to what he thinks we should pay but when it comes to negotiations, let the money men work out the upper ceiling as far as a fee and wages are concerned.

Tell Us Where Our Future’s Formed

In this instance, Arsène’s binary presentation of the director’s role backfires. He painted the picture of a bogeyman who would impose his choices on the manager over players we sign or sell. It was never going to be that simplistic, surely? Question Wenger’s tactics and why we lost; hold the manager to account in a way the board are too timid to because they haven’t managed 1,000 games. That’s why Wenger made the choice so one-dimensional.

The reasons won’t change our current reality. Despite the evidence in front of his own eyes at the end of last season and the performances against Leicester and Stoke, it’s pretty clear that we’re not bringing anyone else in. Wenger said at the end of last season that we would have two or three new signings but no more.

I do wonder however, if this timidity is partly inspired with the knowledge that Alexis is leaving next summer for nothing. It won’t come as any surprise to learn that the manager and board decided to position the sale as having no impact, knowing that they could hold back this summer and go mad next.

One last hurrah for Arsène? You would bet against it.

’til Tomorrow.

94 thoughts on “All Done & Dusted? Arsène Pulls The Transfer Plug

  1. C,

    [I have copied and pasted the comment below — I would be interested in your response.] 😀

    Time differences mean you will probably won’t get a chance to read this, but your comment;

    — “Size is overrated for me (all you PL strictly people look away) because you can be physical and small. Kante is an example but so is Gueye of Everton (who I think is on par with Kante but funny enough defensively is a better reader and tackler), those quick accelerating but physically strong players that ride challenges and use their body.”

    And of course the NFL is populated by a whole bunch of pygmies ——- not! 😀

    It cannot be argued that Kante and Gueye are small, very good, sharp and rarely seem to get injured.
    What you are not giving credit to is that no one, to my knowledge, has denied that – but like everything in life, you cannot rely on a team of small (short?) players, or a team of giants (tall) players, but it is essential to have a team of physically mixed players.
    If you are talking about Arsenal, we have more than our fair share of the vertically challenged players, both at FB, and at CB and …. oh, yes — MF too. 😀

    That is too many small guys, and together with zonal marking, is why any cross into the Arsenal penalty area always causes mayhem – especially with an ageing GK who is not too good at collecting crosses.

    You have also ignored what history teaches us — the Great Invincibles were renowned for not only their skill, but also for their intimidating size. Even Roy Keane and Gary Neville have said that when Manure lined up in the tunnel, next to the Gunners, they were already fearing the worst standing next to our tall, athletic, and skilful players. They should know.

    Finally — and this hurts me to say — that awful sh*t Maureenhio has built a similar sized team to the Invincibles, with currently the tallest team in the PL – and to be fair, after the first two games they look pretty skilful too. Will they win the PL? I regretfully say they have a far better chance than we do.

  2. HenryB,

    May as well post my reply in that case! 🙂

    Excellent comment there H
    As someone said “a good big ‘un always beats a good small ‘un”. All of our title winning sides were strong and powerful teams, the mystery is why AW moved away from that model. We used to get red cards aplenty but that didn’t stop us winning. Our recent sides are the very antithesis of those teams.

    As for zonal marking, it’s a particular bug-bear of mine. Not only do we not have the players for it (and yes there have been small players with a big leap but we haven’t got any of those) but it is the very worst system to use when a manager doesn’t like to attribute responsibility to individuals. What we get is ‘collective responsibility’ which means a) players avoid scrutiny, and b) individual mistakes are not addressed.

    I’d be worried when our midfield face United. They could do to us what we used to do to others when we had Vieira and Petit bossing the game. As you say we may not like Maureen but you can’t deny that he has a plan is at least trying to implement it. I have no idea what our plan is other than keeping the costs down and maximising revenues.

  3. Good Morning All. YW I salute thee ONCE again. Your copy is top drawer.

    To quote Freddie ” Parrot faced” Davis I am Sick Sick Sick of this “Bordelle”.

  4. “One last hurrah for Arsène? You would bet against it.”

    I expect that Arsene would like to have more than one last hurrah YW. Unless Syrupy Stan cashes in I can’t see him leaving while he has his health. The will he/wont he was a sham last season IMO, I said at the time he had no intention of leaving, we were just strung along and I bet he was shocked when the fans weren’t begging him to sign on again (hence all the nonsense about our ingratitude for his ‘sacrifice’ in taking home huge sums for some pretty average performances over the last decade).

    You wouldn’t bet against more unrest as soon as the title is out of reach, which could be sooner than many expect this time around. Clearly change isn’t a concept that they embrace at the Ems, it wont happen until things get ugly enough and the ‘customer’ votes with his feet and slams shut his or her wallet.

  5. Good morning folks, it looks to me as though Wenger is going to allow players to run down contracts as a matter of course. How he can believe that players like Sanchez and Ozil will suddenly see the light and sign a new deal next June is beyond belief.

    If City come calling with £60 million for Sanchez this week, take it. Same applies to Oxlade-Chamberlain if Chelsea think he’s worth £35 million, let them have him.

  6. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that AFC is not a Football Club anymore.

    I played at Football at very decent level back in the day (Memories…..Gladys Knight). If and its a BIG If I had ever graduated to the heights of being an Arsensal player I think I too would have followed RVP Glichy Sagna Nasri and others out of the door. The Money earned at that level becomes relative after a while, it then comes to down to do you want to win Trophies and Titles.

    AFC are not in the Game to Win and compete.

  7. Orson Kaert,

    No interest in Ozil though (visions of him sitting at the station waiting for a train but just tumbleweed rolling by). Which says it all really, he should be lucky to get a contract extension without a wage rise. If that’s not acceptable I’d let him leave.

  8. A good Post, YW, and pretty much covers it.

    We broached quite a lot of this yesterday, and as you have summed up everything so well there is little left to add.

    There is perhaps one seemingly small matter that actually, if correct, has had a significant impact on where we are viz a vis our transfer activity, or lack of it.

    I railed at some length, yesterday, about the nonsense of linking the sale of minor players for peanuts, with the going market rate for purchasing valuable, quality players in the fast disappearing transfer window, and also the fact that the ‘club’ seem incapable of ‘multi-tasking’ and letting ‘X’ organise the sales of players, and ‘Y’ deal with the purchase of players.
    And god help us — the idea of keeping an eye on players’ contracts at the same time is incomprehensible to the club – with the inevitable results that have become plain for all to see.

    Multi-tasking? What the hell is that? I can hear AW say. 😀

    And there in the fine details is the crux of the matter.
    Arsene, naturally, like all managers, wants to select players who will boost the squad and earmark players who he wants to release. OK, so far as it goes. No problem there.

    But — But — Having told the Board who he wants them to buy – his job should be done. Finito!
    He should not be involved in any way in the financial negotiations to buy the player or players that the Board have agreed to buy for him, nor the sale of the players he does not want.
    Go take a hike around the training pitch Arsene while someone else gets it done — and await the gift of the gods.

    Does Maureenhio at Manure, or Conte at Chelsea, or Klip Klop at Liverpuddle go out and negotiate their clubs transfer deals? No, they do not. All of them have moaned, or fretted, about the lack of activity of their clubs in ‘doing deals’ for this player or that during the transfer window, and made their unhappy feelings known to their Boards until they get what they want — but becoming involved in the financial bit – No. They simply make it clear that they want ‘Z’ and expect to have the appropriate player delivered with a big pink bow as soon as possible.

    That is where Arsenal go awry. You cannot let one person [AW] have a finger in too many pies.
    His digit should be firmly stuck in his team’s pie. [I know what you thought I was going to say.] 😀
    Wenger’s over-riding responsibility is the team — it is another man’s duty [Law’s?] to go figure the finances.

    Using the special talents of everyone involved in a club project, Arsene, is known as teamwork and a team’s achievements are always going to be greater than the efforts of one man.
    You manage a football team, AW, you know that’s right — become part of the team and you might be pleasantly surprised at how successful that can be — and it cannot be worse than the ‘one man’ situation we are currently in. N’est-ce pas?

  9. Andy @ 10:20

    Ace response!! 😀

    And I so, so agree with your point about the mystery of AW switching from Big + Skilful players to Small + Skilful players, when the former produced such great teams. Why did he do it? I know not.

    Like you, I see a place for the latter – and our man C has pointed out two small but physical players that I would happily have at Arsenal — but the balance is key — and we have lost that.

  10. Morning, jonnygunner,

    Nicky is a good guy, a Gooner, with his heart in the right place.

    He is passionate about the Gunners, as we all are, in our different ways – if we all live to his great age, [and Trump may take that out of our hands] I hope we are all just as committed as he is. 😀

  11. andy1886,

    He’s a winker,he’s a winker….and it does him goid like it bloody well should….he’s always pulling his pudd.
    But it gives him longevity 😉😉😉

  12. “You wouldn’t bet against more unrest as soon as the title is out of reach, which could be sooner than many expect this time around”

    Mathematically ? Probably with six games to go before the season’s end.
    Realistically ? Six games into the season.

  13. Orson,

    You are probably swimming in the North Sea by now, but you make a good point about AW saying that all player contracts will run until the end of their term, and somehow justifying why we are in such an expensive mess with the three best players in our squad.

    OK, I may not have quoted Wenger exactly because I could not be assed to read the whole thing.

    The idea that a club will pay £200m, for example, and allow the contract to run its course before discussing an extension, or selling the player to recoup some of that outlay if it looks unlikely the player wants to extend the contract is just weirdly nonsensical at every level.

    As he is an economist, I would love to hear his rationale for saying something like that.

    Many fans will take the view that Sanchez, Özil and Oxo should be made to stick with their current contracts before walking away next summer — and that is reasonable, on the face of it. It is the club’s money after all and if they want to throw it away more fool them.

    There is also a certain cynicism from some fans that if the club sold those three now – for say £100m – that the club would not reinvest it in replacement players (and time is running short) , and I understand that.
    But to start the next transfer window in summer 2018 with a £100m hole in the bucket and no players to show for it is a perilous road to perdition in my opinion.

    I guess what I am saying, is that AW is talking poppycock about the contracts, and making the three players stay for another year (with ‘injuries’ bugging Sanches already) at a cost of £100m in player value + their salaries at £18m for the year = £118m is simply preposterous as any economist would tell us — and could be ruinous for our PL chances for this year and next.

  14. HenryB,

    With £60 million for Sanchez and £35 million for Oxlade-Chamberlain we could easily afford Monaco’s asking price for Wenger’s number one target Lemar. There should also be enough dosh in the piggy bank to buy the defensive midfielder we so sorely need.

    Ozil will be snapped up by some German club next summer, he’s very highly regarded in the Bundesliga and rightly so.

  15. Tom,

    Given our inability to chase an opponent and to implode as soon as we near the top of the table I would say that if we lag the leaders by six points or more then the challenge is as good as over. Look how little Leicester managed to hold their nerve as we faltered. It has nothing to do with squad strength, the more Wenger prattles on about ‘mental strength’ the more it convinces me that the culture he nurtures can never again produce title winners.

  16. If the media stories are true – and we know there is at least an equal chance of them being totally false – that the club will sit down and meet AOC this week, who will then inform the club that he is not willing to sign the new deal on offer, and then we subsequently refuse to sell him and allow him to play out the last year of his current deal then my own opinion is that Wenger and whoever else is complicit in the AFC board is guilty of gross mismanagement of the player / the club’s assets.

    This is not Sanchez we are talking about (who I would also sell by the way) but a player of above average ability but incredibly with a market value reported as in excess of £30m. If Arsene and his many staff, who are on alert 24 hours a day, cannot find a due replacement in Europe at that price then more questions arise.

    To allow this situation to still exist one week before the end of the transfer window just compounds the earlier complaint of managerial ineptitude.

  17. Marvellous post again, YW.

    You speak much truth but, of course, no one that matters is listening.

    Many voices, yours and mine included, agreed that the only way to convince our big names to stay was to make big signings. Instead, we bought one player ( good signing, no doubt, but a player that should have been bought 2 years ago – he was available at the right price and we would have saved a fuck tonne of money too).

    Now, we are closing the transfer book and claiming we are impecunious and so we will watch as player after player walks away. At the very moment this club’s years of planning should, at last, be coming to fruition it looks like it will be hurtling down the fucking toilet.

    Big sighs all round as we bang our heads against the collective wall.

  18. Afternoon all,

    Unless we sign two very good players in the next week and start to look competitive (I know, it’s not going to happen) I expect to see yet more banners and aircraft over the Emirates this season, telling Arsene that his time is up. Nothing wrong with that. As fans we have been patient long enough and expect the club to be competitive. There’s nothing unreasonable in that and we are certainly not like the Kings Road Chavs who gladly sack a manager who won the PL only months earlier or came second, beaten by a better team. I read today that Chelski are thinking about Tuchel as a replacement to Conte; that’s the same Thomas Tuchel many of us thought would make a good replacement for Wenger. Yet again we dithered.

    Although I’m not sure dither is the best word to describe Arsenal anymore. Incompetent seems more apt. With contracts of major players expiring at the same time, average players on ludricrously generous contracts, the inability to ship out the dead wood and get in better players, allowing the manager to undermine the teams performance with his own contract renewal and so on, we really are incompetent.

    But should Arsene be the sole focus of our angst? I think not. Surely, the stadium campaigns should be aimed at all three of the accused – Silent Stan, Incompetent Ivan and Arrogant Arsene. They are the collective three clowns, or not-so-wise monkeys, running our great club into mediocrity. They are See No Title, Hear No Title, Say No Title.

    As Meatloaf once sang, two out of three ain’t bad. Well, they’re all bad, for Arsenal. But I’d take any two out three leaving. With the right people, we could probably succeed with any single one of them in place, even Arsene if he had an owner and CEO breathing down his neck demanding titles or the chop. Although I would prefer all three to take a hike.

    Taxi for the three monkeys….

  19. HenryB,

    Good day to you.

    It is a strange that a man who talks so much about the team and them all being captains on the pitch has no interest in using his team off the pitch.

    If the rumours are true that Ox won’t sign a new contract, it must make sense to sell him and reinvest the money in a better player now. I know Bill flags that Ox is one of more attacking players, but we could surely get a capable replacement in to do the job for £35m.


    We could well be in that position after the weekend. Would that be the earliest we have ever been out of the title race? I know many will say there is a long way to go, but I mean never being close to catching up the gap at the top.

  20. Jonny,

    Rooney’s international career has always been an oddity. England’s top goal scorer but never really convinced on the big stage where he’s put in many downright poor performances. I can’t say that he’ll be a loss because he wont be. Given the the very average nature of the current England squad that says it all really.

  21. Another great post Yogi. You are on a roll.


    I am a fan of Ox as our RWB but if he is serious about refusing to sign a new contract or if he is not willing to accept that he is probably not going to be a central midfielder then he should be sold and a suitable replacement should be purchased.

  22. Stu,

    I think your three monkeys would fail on all three counts for Meatloaf:

    we don’t want Stan
    we don’t need Ivan
    and there ain’t no way we’re ever gonna love Wenger.

  23. C

    Thanks for the post last night. I understand all the stuff about different leagues and how it’s difficult to assess a players ability to adapt to English football. That does not change the fact that Arsene has always placed a much higher value on technical skill and passing ability even in players who are play defensive position such as deepest midfielder and CB. How well a player defends has to be the #1 criteria for buying a player who will play one of those positions. I would think that if you have enough time and watch enough game film you can get an accurate idea of how good someone is as a defensive player. However, I don’t see how Arsene can possibly have enough time to actually do the amount of research that needs to be done to make his decisions.

  24. God day,

    If he´s really arguing that a manager should consider the clubs money like his own and that is his modus operandi then I fail to grasp the concept.

    Yes, I´m not the sharpest tool in the shed box, but I don´t understand this. If it was his money. Would he flush 120-130 millions of £ down the toilet?

    As that is what`s gonna happen when Alexis, Ozils and The Ox run their contract down and say bye, bye next year.

    But maybe he´s holding out for better offers and trying to maximise what there is to recoup?

  25. Stu,

    I’m going to try the Spanish method of the twirling white hanky or rag. Seems to work well over there.

  26. Bill,

    Arsene has already told us that we’re being asked to pay over the odds for players , so I don’t expect a replacement if The Ox is sold.

    More likely Nelson is given a chance or someone like Coquelin ‘converted’ …either way there’s little chance we will invest.

  27. Hi Wavey @ 1:28

    I am what I ham, and I is what I hiss — in which case a man of logic, such as I, [Note to self: say it very modestly – and blush] cannot make neither head nor tail of what I hear from Arsenal — and logic tells me therefore there is no logic in the burbling I hear — therefore I am no longer listening.

    The one redeeming feature of all the smoke and mirrors that we have been subjected to for so many weeks, implying we will be players-less, and money-less this time next year, (given the mantra of self financing that the club insists it is sticking to) – is that Stan will blink first and tell Wenger to get over it “It’s my money, Arsene, not yours, so I will choose to sell the bast*rds in this window, and keep my money to invest now. or next summer, and if you don’t like them potatoes – sling your hook and leave my £100m alone — I am an entrepreneur who takes little risk – but I am not mad!!”

    We will see. 😀

  28. Ozil isn’t going anywhere this year. Nobody wants him. Ozil knows he won’t get a higher salary anywhere else, especially if that club also has to tack on a transfer fee.
    His best option is to play out his contract and put himself on the auction floor. He’ll earn more than any other comparably skilled player because his new team won’t have to pay a transfer fee. Part of that fee could be used to increase his salary. Similarly AFC would pay him more than a comparably skilled replacement because they won’t have to pay a ridiculous transfer fee.
    Our economist manager has really messed things up.

  29. HenryB,

    Since you asked for a response, I will give you one. 😉

    When it comes to size, I do think that it is overrated but I think part of the problem, is that the PL and futbol in England, your physical gifts outweigh and are more important than you technical and futboling IQ. When it comes to physical size, I know and have seen plenty of the best players in the world not necessarily be the most physically opposing but they were tough and ‘wiry strong’ so that while they might not be opposing players, they were incredibly strong.

    Its funny that you bring up history because I could then point to the Barca and Spanish teams that quite frankly dominated Europe with Messi, Inesta, Xavi, Xabi(for Spain), Puyol (was a midget when it comes to CB’s) but they were all tough and strong and understood how to ride a challenge but also use their bodies to shield and hold off players much much larger than them. No one is arguing that the Invincibles weren’t a brand or style of futboler that you wouldn’t want but at the same time even without their actual physical size, they were tough, skillful with high futboling IQ’s that didn’t take shit from anyone.

    I think part of the problem with Arsene’s shift was that he went away from big personalities and tough characters simply because he doesn’t like to be opposed. The strange thing is, if you actually look at our team, we have some players that are 6′ or taller: Sead, Giroud, Xhaka, Kos(6’1), Ozil (6′), Mustafi but of them, onlySead and Xhaka would be known for his aggressiveness no matter how rash it can be at times. But then you look at players like Giroud and Kos and physical tough players, well they aren’t even close. Mustafi and Ozil, Mustafi has shown a physical side and a take no prisoner sort of approach to tackling but it seems to come and go when it comes to all the time and while Ozil is really good at using his body and riding challenges, he is languid and elegant.

    Then you look at some of the rest through the years and I think with that toughness no matter the size comes desire and those are things that Arsene has publicly shamed players for having.

    Fuck zonal marking and to be honest, when it comes to set pieces, we get done by the fact we have a GK that doesn’t command his box as much as we do with shitty zonal marking.

  30. Bill,

    Trust mate, I get all of it and its one of the reasons why I struggle to understand why Gabriel was sold (I get the language barrier is one of the main reasons but simply saying he isn’t good enough isn’t justifiable because he was defender through and through) but we all know that Arsene cares for defense about as much as I care for power. So we are in agreement on that and we are actual in agreement on the fact that Arsene should know and know how to get the best not only out of the players he purchases but the team he has. Its all a bit strange but speaks to a man that as Yogi points out, has full power and thinks he can do it all on his own.

  31. Wenger’s logic and arguments are so full of holes it’s ridiculous. I don’t listen any more.
    Why have we moved stadium?

    The new operating conditions for clubs have passed him by and we need not just a manager comfortable with the new world but also senior management who is too.
    I am not advocating spending like a drunken sailor, just addressing the obvious gaps in the squad.
    Other clubs find reasonably priced competent defenders, goalkeepers and midfielders, why can’t we?
    It will all be over before winter imho but sadly this will be a long hard season for us.

  32. size may be overrated when comparing individual players – but size is extremely important when comparing squads. A lack of height can be exploited by a lesser taller squad. They can play the ball around in our zone and look to fall down and get free kicks…or as Stoke once did they’d play the ball out wide in our zone to create Dilap throw ins.
    A lack of team height can become an Achilles heal.

  33. Wenger needs to pare down the squad – many are unsellable. Unfortunately that only leaves more valuable assets like Chezzer and Gabriel.

  34. In the strangest news of the day, Barca have pulled out of the Seri deal even though it was literally only waiting for Seri to finish the match against Napoli. They say that their was internal strife between two key figures of teh Barca transfer team, one wanted Seri and the other didn’t and ultimately Barca pulled out of the deal.

  35. Look at Stan’s American franchises…he absolutely does NOT care of they languish in midtable mediocrity. These are financial enterprises that earn money. He is a businessman first and foremost.
    AFC exists to siphon money out of your pockets in to his.

  36. Apologies, just to change subject briefly – in spite of myself – I cannot help but want to watch the fight unfold this weekend. I know. I know.
    It should be an embarrassment for McGregor and an absolute walk in the park for Mayweather but the fact Mayweather has been out for two years and past his 40th birthday gives me some pause that there is a very, very slim chance of a surprise.
    Anywho I am certainly not paying to watch it – do any of you intend on watching it via stream?
    If you do – please can you post here any good links on the night or, indeed, good sites, in advance?

  37. I think big CBs are a must in the Prem – as is a good-sized keeper.
    The rest comes down to how you play (to an extent) and whether it is allied with quality but Man Utd look redolent of Mourinho’s past Chelsea teams and the freeing up of Pogba by signing Matic allied with Lukaku’s signing will spell a torrid time for most PL opposition.
    So much pace and power in their first team – they will be fkn hard to break down too.

  38. Jonny,

    I’m watching the fight via stream just haven’t got to looking but will post a link should I find a good one.

    Personally think the fight might end up being a dud, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see anything happen from McGregor actually knocking him out due to layoff and just the way sports are, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mayweather just be defensive until McGregor tires and then beating on him for a couple rounds only for it to go to a decision.

  39. Assuming that was not sarcasm; a manager rejecting a signing on the basis of one player saying no?
    Either he was unsure of the signing to start with or…yes, I do. 🙂

  40. Jonny,

    I think that is the other point, CB’s for the most part should be bigger based on PL standards but the midfield and attackers, really does come down to how you play. For instance, Aguero is still when fully fit the best best or one of the best overall strikers in the PL and while he isn’t big, he is as strong as some of the bigger CF’s with incredible balance.

    I do think that Matic freeing up Pogba was a stroke of genius by Mourinho. Lukuka for me will be interesting, I know he has gotten off to a smashing start but I do wonder what will happen when he goes 2-3 matches without scoring because the pressure at Everton is worlds different than that of Manure.

  41. OK, C,

    Fair enough – you disagree, but at the same time you sort of agree with me too. 🙂

    You seem to be arguing about something I did not say, and ignoring what I did say. I believe there is an imbalance in recent years where Arsenal have too many small players, and not enough big players. I also said that being big was only part of the equation in that “Big + skilful” should be the criteria, as is the case with “Small + skilful” — neat try, C, (Bill would be proud of you) 🙂 but I did not say that big is enough on its own.

    I am also tickled that you said, “I think part of the problem, is that the PL and futbol in England, your physical gifts outweigh and are more important than you technical and futboling IQ.”

    It looks like I am going to have to apply for English Citizenship if it is ‘my’ PL. 🙂

  42. Jonny,

    From what I have read, the manager wanted the player but it came to the backroom management transfer team, internal politics if you must that one of the chiefs wanted him and the other didn’t. Seri’s agent was in Barcelona, again from what I have read, and the deal was done including wages, bonuses and fee and Seri had based on reports told people that Napoli was his last match for Nice.

    When it comes to Barca and Madrid, nothing is out of the realm of possibility when it comes to the logical and illogical.

  43. HenryB,

    I know you did say big + skillful and I wasn’t disagreeing that would be great but the point that I was ultimately making is that people put a premium on big, strong and physical players but I would take a small, strong, physical skillful player.

    I think one of the other things that people sort of forget is that some of the bigger/taller players aren’t actually physical, for instance Nzonzi is a player that is taller and athletic but he is languid and far from being the physical player many want him to be. He did an interview on it that was really interesting.

    This conversation is kind of funny, your a taller larger fellow from what you have told us and well I am somewhere in between being 6’1″ but only weighing 180lbs of lankiness ;-).

  44. Orson Kaert,

    City paid £50 million for Kyle Walker — on that scale, Alexis should be worth at least £85-90 million to the oil barons.
    On the other hand, £35 million for the Ox is in the right ballpark.

  45. Wavey:

    I think your three monkeys would fail on all three counts for Meatloaf:

    we don’t want Stan
    we don’t need Ivan
    and there ain’t no way we’re ever gonna love Wenger.

    Wavey, you are not wrong there! Surely, only the most devoted of disciples can still love Wenger for his 1997-2004 era. For the rest of us, it’s been tarnished by the decade since.

  46. tax

    The difference is that Walker had a number of years left on his contract and Citeh had to pay big to get him now.

    If Citeh or Chelsea wait until next January they can talk to Sanchez then and get him for free in summer 2018.

    Crazy contract management by Arsenal or what?

    [The same applies to Özil and Oxo, of course.]

  47. The criteria for new players being bought for Arsenal at CM, CH, like Sead, is Big + Skilful — so we agree on that.

    There is room for Small + Skilful, such as Kante — so we agree on that too.

    [Don’t tell anyone, but I missed out the third requirement to go with Size + Skill and it’s pace perhaps because I am certainly big enough, but I have the pace of a tortoise and no skill — sshh — it’s a secret!] 😀

  48. You are absolutely correct, Buckagh — I was thinking that PSG might step in — anyway, that’s my excuse!! 😀

  49. Geekaybee,

    Hmmm, it’s more of a Vieira that we’re looking for. We’ve had a few seasons of Santi and didn’t get within a million miles of winning the title.

  50. Jonny,

    Try i think they cover most sports. You have to click off a few advert pop ups, but that’s it. You will need a VPN. I’d suggest tunnel bear as they give you a free allowance that will easily cover you.

  51. Liverpool looking good going forward at least tonight. No more silly defensive set-ups please Mrs Wenger.

  52. Hi Pete and Henry B,
    Just enjoying the early days of yet another season of Arsenal top flight football.
    As the Summer Transfer Window nears its closure, I hope that there will be further new blood wending its way to the Ems.
    We are still in the EPL, the FA and League Cups and the Europa League so there is much excitement to anticipate.
    We have Arsene Wenger as manager for the next two seasons and I would hope he receives 100% backing from all loyal supporters of our great Club during his tenure.
    A similar loyalty should be given to all who wear the shirt. Poor performances and mistakes are not deliberate and players do their best. 😉

  53. After watching Liverpool tonight, I am expecting Klopp to send them out to come at us from the off at the weekend. We are going to have to be up for it right from the kick off. If we are on our game we are going to be able to catch them out at the back, otherwise we could be 2 or 3 down in the first 20 minutes. Could be another great game for the neutrals.

  54. Jonny,

    Exactly, Jonny. A big window was needed. Now, I really don’t care that much if Alexis and Ozil are sold except that I enjoy watching talent like theirs. But the stakes aren’t there because the club hasn’t done what was needed to make attempting to hold onto them genuinely meaningful–building a side to challenge. Too 4 or not isn’t compelling. I am most interested in the Europa Leagur, a new competition we might actually be able to win but they the manager is likely to throw in pursuit of the banal top 4 trophy.

  55. YW,


    It’s a fair cop, I meant Msr. Any suggestion that Wenger is a big girl’s blouse would be sexist and therefore unacceptable 😉

  56. Greatest Arsenal player? Bergkamp. Big and skillful. Best striker? Henry. Big and skillful. Best midfielder? Vieira. Big and skillful.

  57. All else being equal bigger is always better then smaller. There are players like Cazorla who are small and still very important impact players but you need to surround him with some bigger players. Arsene’s vision of total football at the start of the Emirates era was a whole team full of Cazorla’s and Fabregas’ which would dominate ball possession in midfield and run circles around the opposing and pass them into oblivion. It gave us some really attractive football and we were all really excited about what Arsene was going to do for a while, but in retrospect it was never going to work in England. I thought it was doomed to fail by 2008/09 when Arsene started constantly talking about playing attacking football and defense taking of itself as long as you had ball possession.

  58. YW – Give Arsene a break. He’s so busy trying to sell minor players he doesn’t have time to strengthen his squad. I mean, Joel Campbell is an absolute debacle. FIVE loan spells! Arsene must be kidding. No wonder Joel is upset. If Arsene didn’t want him, he should have shifted him off the books long ago. Lucas Perez? Holding out for top dollar. Ridiculous! Though I wonder whether Arsene is a bit surprised that so many clubs want the guy. I suspect he’s not as keen on selling as he claims.

  59. Oh, yeah, the midfield should be Elneny and Coquelin. They can both do the business defensively, which should take some of the strain off the wingers and let them bomb forward more. It will also take some of the defensive burden off Ozil and let him be more creative.

  60. Or, in other words, the team should basically play a 3-5-2 with Coquelin and Elneny as the “defensive” pairing in the middle shielding Ozil. You know it makes sense!

  61. freddo,

    The general idea works, but I’m not convinced that Le Coq (rash, gives away too many FK’s) and Elneny (tidy but no great tackler) are the answer. We’d be better off with a real DM, a playmaking midfielder (the only role where Xhaka might work) and a B2B all as a midfield three flanked by two WB’s. With two strikers it’s take two from Lacazette, Alexis, Giroud, and Ozil. I can’t see how Ozil could be shoehorned in and still give us enough goals.

    Working with what we have, the consensus seems to be that you can’t play Ramsey and Ozil in the same team (although Wenger obviously disagrees). I’d say that you can’t play Ozil and Xhaka in the same team. Both have similar strengths in picking key passes, but both also have similar weaknesses (cannot tackle, don’t really track back, struggle to impose themselves on the opposition). They need others to do their donkey work. So I can see why you’d want two more defensive midfielders but really you are effectively playing with ten men if you need two players to do the job effectively that one should be doing.

    Bottom line is that we don’t have the players (especially in midfield) to play the way Wenger wants. In fact without a real DM we don’t have the players for any system that’s likely to be effective in the PL. The only way we can play is to accept that we’re likely to concede and try to outscore the opposition, which over a season and against the best sides is never going to work. I guess that’s what you get when your manager thinks of football as an ‘entertainment’ first and foremost and not a sport where the goal is primarily to win the game by whatever method possible.

  62. andy1886,

    I am in agreement
    Ozil or Ramsey- make your choice
    With solid back 3 I think Xhaka can work with El or Le coq
    I like your assist point and if Ozil plays then perhaps you lose Xhaka and go with Le coq. Ideally we buy a good DM – how long do we talk about it?

    I commend Nicky’s sentiment

    However I am slightly underwhelmed with our business

    Good start- is that it though?

    We seem to be unpicking a solid back 3 database by selling Gabriel (why?) emasculating Holding and not playing Per. That was my backup 3!

    Dicking about with WB when clearly we have our starters Sead & Bell with Ox understudying or Nacho moving over. Nelson does look promising as I actually saw live here in Oz but he is 17…

    Ozil is class. As is Alexis. Lac a good signing

    BUT we need the midfield signing. A class player

    My biggest fear is they have agreed to write off $100k+ on our defectors next season so in lieu we will spend $0 now

    And we finished 5th. Does he really want 2 more years of boos?

    AW – 7 days to save the season of at least play the right team you have

  63. Didn’t get to visit the site yesterday…. Busy day.

    What’s the point of this article?
    Bashing the coach again or what?
    You’ve reeled out better stuffs.

    I think your point on player positioning & selection the real challenge. The squad is not as bad… Moreover the Stoke match was refereeing nightmare.

    Why Chambers not playing? Is he injured? Doesn’t even make the bench.
    Xhaka is very good but his mistakes have been deadly…. He need to up his ante…

    Let’s forget the transfers & focus on the squad.

  64. With no interest in the Europa league cup before I had forgotten Sevilla won 3 on the trot after beating Liverpool in 2016. Impressive

  65. Oludotun,

    I guess you answered your question

    The point of the article is to boldly predict AW has pulled the plug

    I am not sure we have done enough compared to our top five competitors

    And like Chambers I agree seems strange he seems to be dicking about with what is still a good squad

    May the smoke clear this week

  66. andy1886,

    Totally agree the team needs a real DM. However, you’ve got to fight with the army you’ve got. So I think you need a midfield three: two good defenders (Coquelin and Elneny who will, at least track back and pressure the ball all day) and Ozil to provide the creativity. Ozil can’t be one of the two forwards. Just not enough goals in him.
    And yes, Coquelin does sometimes lose the ball, but he sure as hell goes and gets it back.
    So maybe I’m really advocating a 3-4-1-2.

  67. Freddo,

    Maybe…but isn’t there something of a gap if we have two deeper mids and then Ozil? As you say we really need a true DM freeing up a spot for an actual midfielder who primarily features in the middle rather than in an advanced position (Ozil) or shielding the back four and playing the ball out (Le Coq and Elneny). And once you get behind Ozil there isn’t much if any creativity there either.

    I guess what I’m saying is that we don’t have the personnel to put out a balanced midfield (the Xhaka money would have been better spent on a real DM) so how ever much we tinker with the options we have it’s never going to be fit for purpose.

  68. Oludotun

    > What’s the point of this article?
    > Bashing the coach again or what?
    > You’ve reeled out better stuffs.

    What’s the point of your comment?
    Bashing the blogger again or what?
    You’ve reeled out better stuffs.

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